Highest paid translations · Updated 2019
This post is an attempt to answer —and update— a question I have been asked on countless occasions, namely, Which are the highest paid specialties in the translation and interpreting professions? Without further ado, let’s cut to the chase:
First of all, it goes without saying that it is essential for a translator to be highly trained in a given field of specialization; and it is highly recommended to train constantly and keep up with updates within such field. Agencies and end clients highly value this trait. Once the translator is feeling confident, it is advisable to start with small translations and from the very beginning get into the habit of creating translation memories (preferably, sorted by companies or clients).
Returning to the issue at hand, although much depends on the type of end clients or agencies —and the country where they are located—, the most interesting specialties concerning fees include:
– Pharmaceutical Translation: With rates around €0.10, €0.12 or €0.15 /word (approx. $0.18 or £0.14). The interpreters at medical conferences enjoy very good fees, but it is a quite difficult area to access.
– Financial Translation: A senior “in-house” translator working in a large company (e.g., an accounting or asset management agency in Spain), can reach €40,000 (around $50.100 or £38000). If the company is located in Luxembourg, Switzerland, Germany or the UK, it is not unusual to find that a financial translator’s payroll could reach €80,000 gross (around $100,200 or £75,400). A freelance translator, if working with good agencies or end clients could reach around €50,000 annual gross (around $63,000 or £47,400). There are very interesting “sub-specialties” – for example: translating asset management or financial software – with rates that can reach €0.20 ($0.25 or £0.19) /word
–Interpretation in Foreign Trade: In general fees are high, especially if it involves unusual languages. It all depends on what is considered unusual regarding a given location, for example in Spain a Russian translator of my acquaintance specialized in this area may charge up to €100 (around $125 or £95) / hour.
–Software Localization: It is more like a skill, rather than a specialization. It is a skill concerning ICT that every translator can attain. There is no lack of work within the powerful software and video game industry, and a translator on the payroll can earn around 30,000/40,000€ ($40,000 or £35,000) a year.
– Sworn translation: Much depends on the language combination and if the source language is legal, notarial or of academic relevance within the country. But the added value provided by the sworn translator is indisputable, who can charge up to €0.20 ($0.25 or £0.19) /word.
– Legal translations: The standard rate for certified translations for Federally Certified Court Interpreter and Expert Witness based in the Southern District of New York is $0.25-$0.27 (£0.19-£0.20 or 0.21€) per word. (Thanks Walter!).
– Engineering translations: On one hand it requires a high degree of specialization, on the other hand rates are by no means negligible. Depending on the language pairs, rates can range from 0,12€ to 0,18€/word (around $0.14 or 0.10£-$0.22 or £0.19). There are many specializations within this category, such as aerospace, civil, industrial engineering, robotics…
The rates and fees depend largely on the nature of a company and the country where it is located, but with this post I am trying to highlight some of the highest paid translation specializations. Lastly, this post is open to your contributions. If you want to share your experiences, please do not hesitate to leave a message.
* Figures in Euros and US dollars.
List of translators and interpreters associations
- International Federation of Translators / Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs (FIT-IFT)
- International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters (IAPTI)
- International Association of Conference Interpreters / Association internationale des interprètes de conférence (AIIC)
- International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS)
- International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA)
- Translators Without Borders (TWB) / Traducteurs sans Frontières (TSF)
- European Society for Translation Studies (EST)
- Conseil Européen des Associations de Traducteurs Littéraires (CEATL) / European Council of Literary Translators’ Associations
- International Association of Legal Translators & Interpreters (IALTI)
- Globalization and Localization Association (GALA)
- World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI)
Translations with highest rates:
By Financial Translator